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Congress faces uphill task Priyanka set to play greater role

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06th-Aug-2014       
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The long-speculated formal induction of Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra in the Congress party leadership may finally happen, most likely after the next round of assembly elections later this year. Three senior Congress leaders familiar with these discussions told ET that among the options on the table for Gandhi-Vadra are the roles of general secretary (organisation) or chief of the Uttar Pradesh Congress unit.
There are incumbents in both posts now: Janardan Dwivedi is general secretary (organisation) and Nirmal Khatri is UP Congress chief. Neither, the Congress leaders said, is likely to protest if Gandhi-Vadra gets their job. "The final decision is Priyanka's and the main inputs will come from Sonia and Rahul," one of the three party leaders told ET.
These leaders and others who spoke to ET did not want to be identified. Gandhi-Vadra could not be reached for comment. The Congress rank and file as well as some senior leaders have for long publicly and privately asked for Gandhi-Vadra to assume a formal and heavyweight party role.
The clamour increased after Congress' worst performance in general elections, when it got a paltry 44 Lok Sabha seats. Since then, Congress politicians around the country have publicly questioned Rahul Gandhi's leadership.
However, party leaders who spoke to ET on Gandhi-Vadra's future plans said there was no question of her assuming a bigger role than her brother. "She will report to Rahul, who's the Congress vicepresident. There will be no sidelining of Rahul," one leader said.
"It was Rahul who had first suggested, before elections, that Priyanka take over as UP Congress chief," another party senior told ET. That suggestion by her brother, however, was not implemented because the top Congress leadership felt there was too little time for Gandhi-Vadra to make a real difference in the politically crucial state.
"Now, with Congress facing an uphill job in UP, Priyanka as state Congress chief can be a good strategy," this leader said. UP Congress leaders are learnt to have communicated to party leaders in Delhi that only someone like Gandhi-Vadra can take on a "master strategist" like Amit Shah.

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